For months now, Fox News hasn't just been covering conservative protests against the Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress. No, the network has been actively pushing the protests, sending its hosts out to speak at some of them, to do live broadcasts from others, and has been effectively working to get more people to turn out. So it took more than a little nerve for Fox to place an ad in three newspapers last week slamming its rivals -- ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN -- for not covering the demonstration that took place in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12th.
That wasn't the worst part of the ad, which ran in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Washington Post. (The Journal and the New York Post are both owned by Fox's parent company, News Corp.) No, the worst part was that those networks had covered the protest -- and Fox knew it.
CNN had a bus there, not far from Fox's van, and video of a CNN reporter being shouted down by protesters briefly went viral on the Internet. And protest organizers erroneously cited ABC as the source of one of the more outlandish crowd size estimates of the day. Beyond that, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported, "[T]he other networks hardly ignored the story. ABC, for instance, covered it Saturday and Sunday on 'Good Morning America' and Sunday on 'World News,' along with extensive reports by ABC Radio and the network's Web site. NBC covered it Saturday on 'Nightly News' and the next morning on 'Today.' CBS covered it on the 'Evening News.' CNN covered the Saturday protests during the 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. hours, as well as on other programs afterward."
Fox's rivals, naturally, were angry about the ad, and about the fact that the Washington Post carried it, despite the falsehoods it contained.
"The ad's outrageous and false, and what is really surprising and disappointing is that the Washington Post would run it," ABC News Senior Vice President Jeffrey Schneider told Salon.
Update: When I originally published this post, I forgot to include the video that now appears below. It shows a Fox producer encouraging the crowd at the protest to be louder, so as to increase the crowd noise for a live shot. The network really has very little room to criticize others' coverage of the event after this. Fox has blamed the incident on a "young, relatively inexperienced associate producer who realizes she made a mistake and has been disciplined."